WASHINGTON (June 6, 2012) -- The Humane Society Legislative Fund, the nation’s leading political advocacy group for animal welfare, is thanking Democratic primary voters in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district for handing an overwhelming defeat to state Sen. Joe Seng, D-Davenport, the champion of Iowa’s notorious “Ag Gag” bill (HF 589/SF 431), which aims to stop whistleblowers from exposing animal abuse, health violations and harassment at industrial factory farms.
“Voters were right to reject a lawmaker who chose to nullify First Amendment freedoms and to put a curtain up to hide potential instances of animal cruelty,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We need elected officials who stand up for their constituents, not for special interests that want to avoid any public scrutiny. We thank Iowans who just said no to Joe Seng and opted instead to back Dave Loebsack by a wide margin.”
HSLF sent direct mail and e-mail to tens of thousands of Democratic primary voters informing them of Seng’s record of working to silence or jail whistleblowers at industrial-style factory farms. The mailer quoted several newspaper editorials which had criticized Iowa’s “Ag Gag” bill when it was considered in the Iowa legislature:
- “How can it be a crime to tell the truth about farms?”—Des Moines Register, 3/1/12
- The bill “could lead to unfairly prosecuting animal-abuse whistle-blowers and perhaps even could undermine the integrity and safety of the state’s food industry….a dangerous step in a censorious direction.”—Iowa City Press-Citizen, 3/1/12
- “This restraint of free speech cannot be squared with either the U.S. or the Iowa constitutions.”—Des Moines Register, 3/19/11
- The chance of whistleblowers being charged with a crime under the new law will be “enough to keep many of them silent.”—Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2/3/12
The legislation championed by Seng created the new crime of “agriculture production facility fraud,” and punishes whistleblowers, investigative journalists, and anyone who helps them report on problems uncovered at a factory farm, with imprisonment for up to two years. Legal scholars say the law is the most sweeping kind of free speech restriction, and an effort to halt speech before it can even be uttered. Animal advocates have conducted investigations to expose horrific animal cruelty, food safety problems, and other examples of criminal activity and malfeasance.
Seng was defeated in the primary by incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who has a record of supporting numerous animal welfare issues. Loebsack voted to save taxpayer dollars and reduce the federal deficit by capping direct subsidies to factory farms, and has voted to ban animal “crush” videos, to make dogfighting and cockfighting a federal felony, to protect wild horses from commercial sale and slaughter, to prevent the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies, to ban the trade in dangerous primates as pets, to pair service dogs with disabled veterans, and to prevent the weakening of the Endangered Species Act. He has also supported efforts to strengthen the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the federal animal fighting law, and programs to address the needs of animals in disasters and ease the shortage of veterinarians in rural areas.
Media contacts: Heather Sullivan, (301) 548-7778, firstname.lastname@example.org
HSLF is a nonpartisan organization that evaluates candidates based only on a single criterion: where they stand on animal welfare. HSLF does not judge candidates based on party affiliation or any other issue.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at animalsandpolitics.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.
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